PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The four major championship trophies all currently reside on American soil, in the hands of young stars likely to factor at this year’s Ryder Cup. So, too, does the Ryder Cup trophy itself, following the U.S. victory at Hazeltine in 2016.
But none of those factors particularly faze Jon Rahm in his quest to help Europe regain the hardware at the biennial matches this fall.
Rahm is making his second career start at The Players Championship, and he’s expected to play a significant role at Le Golf National as a Ryder Cup rookie. As he takes stock of the recent run of American success, highlighted by Patrick Reed’s Masters triumph last month, he’s not exactly sweating.
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“I don’t think it matters who’s won the majors and who held the last Ryder Cup. We are going to France, which is European territory, and this is one week a year,” Rahm said. “We’ve seen many times people play the FedExCup, win the FedExCup and go on to the Ryder Cup and play bad. We’ve seen many people win majors and go to the Ryder Cup and not perform well. At the end of the day, it’s about just that week.”
In addition to Reed, the other three major trophies all belong to Americans under the age of 28: Brooks Koepka (U.S. Open), Jordan Spieth (The Open) and Justin Thomas (PGA Championship). Europe has won six of the last eight Ryder Cups dating back to 2002, and the Europeans haven’t lost at home since 1993.
Rahm enters this week ranked No. 3 in the world, and he has a chance to supplant Dustin Johnson as the top-ranked player with a win or runner-up finish. But the nerves he could potentially face over the daunting closing stretch at TPC Sawgrass will pale in comparison to the jitters he’s expecting when he steps to the first tee in Paris.
“For what I’ve talked to people, apparently it’s unlike any other,” Rahm said. “I’m going to be more nervous than I’ve ever been, I’m going to be more stressed than I’ve ever been and I’m going to be more overwhelmed than I’ve ever been.”